Travel trends? Sure, tell us what’s new. But…Skift? What’s that?!? It’s the media company for serious travel industry professionals. It gathers data on anything and everything travel-related: airlines, hotels, cruises, and tourism trends…then analyzes and reports on what’s going on in “the world’s largest industry.”
A Millennial start-up that launched in 2012, it has become a leader in helping companies understand ever-changing travel trends and tourist demographics. Its two founders wanted Skift to be “the daily homepage” of the travel industry. Guess what? They seem to have succeeded.
Skift just held a Global Forum in New York City and invited all the big players to come. Come they did, and they sat for interviews to let the world know what’s happening in their slice of the travel pie.
Here’s a sample of travel trends to expect in the near future:
Travel trend #1: Airlines at opposite ends of the spectrum
Delta Airlines: Starting October 1: FREE texting while you fly! Delta is spending a few billion to improve customer experience…and this is a sweet way to start. Passengers can text–phones on silence-using iMessage, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger. If the plane has wi-fi, you’re set! Expect other airlines to follow.
American Airlines: On the downside, AA is trying to beat out low-cost competitors, such as Spirit Airlines, by adding even more seats to its already crowded cabins. By adding 12 more passengers to its Boeing Co. 737-800 jets, the airline predicts a $500 million profit by 2021. CEO Doug Parker told investors, “I don’t think we’re ever going to lose money again.” While passengers in Economy will be packed in even tighter, First Class folks can experience luxurious linens by Casper for their full-length beds.
Travel trend #2: How cruise companies manage their challenges
Cruises and Hurricanes: Tourism will return quicker than expected for Caribbean islands destroyed by the 2017 hurricane season. So says Andrew Sheivachman, CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises. “It’ll take a long time to recover but the tourism will come back very quickly because they see the importance of it to their economy.” Meanwhile, cruise lines will focus on the Western Caribbean and Mexico until they can return to the damaged ports.
Cruises and Marketing: There is no doubt that some people adore cruises. For many, it’s the only way they will travel. Still, cruise companies face a couple of challenges. First, they want to retain loyal passengers. Since “loyal” translates as “mature,” they must retain the amenities that keep the older demographic happy. Second, how to recruit younger cruise enthusiasts? Onboard entertainment has to be ramped up. Millennials are not interested in sitting through a traditional revue. MSC Cruises is gambling that its $22 million renovation to add a Cirque du Soleil theatre on the brand new 4,140-passenger Meraviglia (launching in December out of Miami) will draw a young crowd. Third, what about families? That means adding more kid- and teen-friendly activities. Finally: How to do all this in a balanced way…and still be somewhat affordable?
Travel trends #3: Meanwhile, hotels get creative
Hilton: Look for an “urban hostel” brand next year. Details are still top-secret, but the concept could be a welcome addition for budget travelers want a reliable experience when visiting a city. Christopher Nassetta, CEO of Hilton Worldwide, told Skift,“We have a lot of customers that want to now be in these urban environments, that even with our lowest-priced products can’t afford to be in these cities, so we’re giving up a lot of business.” Rooms will be 125-150 sq. ft.
Airbnb/Resy: Airbnb is ambitious, that’s for sure: It aims to be the “super brand” of travel. After acquiring Resy, a software for making restaurant reservations, earlier this year, it’s getting close to letting Airbnb app users make reservations–vacation and food–at the same time. Similar to OpenTable, but easier and less expensive for restaurants to use. The thing is, it has potential to other kinds of cool things, too. When you book your home stay, why not schedule tours and entertainment…all in one handy place?
Travel trends #4: The good and the bad about favorite places
Paris: The City of Light just had its first “pedestrian-only” Sunday. From 11am to 6pm, all traffic was banned (except emergency vehicles, of course) so people could walk, bike, skateboard all over the city. It appears to have been a success, so look for more. You gotta love a city that tries new things–the experimental Paris Plages beaches are now a permanent summer attraction.
Cuba: Cuba is a bit of a hot mess right now, and not just because it was hit by hurricane Irma. The Trump administration has pulled back efforts to reinstate a relationship with Cuba. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is advising Americans not to travel to the island country. He’s also reducing the staff at the embassy in Havana by 60%, citing a deliberate attempt by the Cuban government to poison U.S. staff “by an unknown nature.” Travel by cruise ships and by following specific guidelines is still possible, but don’t expect a warm welcome.
If you’re a travel trend junkie, or just curious about this worldwide industry, you can sign up for Skift’s Daily or Weekly email. Not all of it is thrilling, but some days, there are juicy tidbits.
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